Brooklyn based musician Xenia Rubinos was back in Montreal, as she had promised after her technically disastrous, but creatively awesome show at the Newspeak last year. Things had ended awkwardly when the venue manager cut the band after only 45 minutes, frustrating the band and their manager who lost it. But in a tough environment, Rubinos had delivered a great performance in front of a handful enthusiastic fans. I was very excited to see her play live again, this time at the Jazz Fest.

You can’t blame Xenia Rubinos for not making all possible efforts to make the crowd dance in l’Astral tonight. She really gave all her best, jumping around, dancing sexy, moving her body as she was putting forward her funk fuelled repertoire. But the Jazz Fest Montreal crowd was a bit shy tonight, not 100% knowledgable of her (superb) album “Black Cat Alley” (one of my favourites from all 2016 – see my list here), and somehow uncomfortable among the table-filled venue. Half of the people there still moved around and danced.

Xenia Rubinos’ music isn’t an easy one to adopt if you’re not often exposed to neo-funk, hip hop and modern jazz. But once you get into that syncope beat of hers, it totally gets under your skin and you feel it from your hips to your brain, which tried to keep track of the funky beat and the acrobatic singing that is happening altogether! This lady kicks ass!

jazz 2017 Xenia Rubinos

(photo: Nico Pelletier)

Probably frustrated by the lack of dancing in the room, Rubinos was getting a bit annoyed by the passivity of the Montreal crowd, pleading more than three times that “you only live once, so come on and dance! Now’s your chance…”. This rarely works…

After a while, she seemed to stay focused on her songs and having a great time on stage, and the crowd gradually got into it, also getting acquainted more and more with her music and singing style. Xenia Rubinos has an “all-out” personality (at least on stage): she’s very expressive, with a large smile and big brown eyes that look at you directly. It can be a bit intimidating. Rubinos was also missing one musician in her band: only bassist J. Alexander and drummer Marco Buccelli called in, and both did a great job getting this thing off the ground with funky beats and bass riffs.

You gotta be ready to take in great music, funky grooves and an in-your-face attitude to get Xenia Rubinos’ art. And once you love her, it’s forever.

azz 2017 Xenia Rubinos

(photo: Nico Pelletier)


XENIA RUBINOS was playing at L’Astral during the Montreal Jazz Fest, on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.